How to Clean Your Gutters and Why it's Important to Keep them Clean

Jessica Nguyen
December 28, 2020

Routine gutter maintenance is important in keeping your home’s roof, exterior and foundation free of excess water and debris. Gutters and downspouts work to navigate water flow off the roof so that there is no standing water that can lead to complications such as rotting wood, rotting fascia and foundation cracks A good rain gutter system will direct water away from your house to protect your foundation, driveway and sidewalk. It will keep water from pooling around your home.

It’s important to make sure you are taking the following steps safely. The most important part being the safety and stability of your ladder. Whenever possible, you may consider hiring a professional.

Supplies for Cleaning Gutters

  • Two buckets: one to collect the debris and one to hold your tools.
  • Garden hose: needed to clean the downspouts and test for blockages.
  • Gutter scoop: used to scoop the debris out of your gutter.
  • Rubber gloves: it’s a dirty task so it’s best to prepare for the unexpected.
  • Caulk and sealant: used to repair any cracks or leaks.
  • Ladder, extension ladder: needed to safely access your gutters.

How To Clean Your Gutters

Step 1: Preparation

You can buy a gutter scoop but a small hand shovel or a kitchen spatula will do the job just as easily. It’s also handy to utilize two buckets because one can be used for debris and the second will be used to store your supplies and can be hooked to the ladder to free your hands.

To reach your gutters, you will need a stepladder and or an extension ladder. If you don't have a safe and secure one, you can rent or borrow one if you plan to clean your gutters yourself. While setting up your ladder, make sure it's stable, has a flat base, and the top of the extension is resting firm on the side of the house. It’s important to have someone there while you do the work in case of an emergency.

Step 2: Cleaning the Gutters

Using your choice of scoop, start at the downspout and scoop out the debris. When you’ve cleaned as much as you can in one spot without overreaching, move the ladder and repeat the process for the rest of the gutter’s length. While clearing, you should be on the lookout for any leaks or damages that will need to be sealed with sealant or caulk. If there’s standing water in the gutter, that means it’s improperly sloped. Ideally, gutters should slope 1/4-inch for every 10-feet toward the downspout.

Step 3: Cleaning the Downspouts

Once your gutters are clean, it’s time to clean the downspouts. Turn the hose on and spray down the spout, if the amount of water coming out is less than what is going in, then there’s a blockage you’ll need to dislodge. To do so, take your hose and place it into the top opening, then turn on the water and create as much pressure as possible to test the flow and clarity of the running water. If you need to try something stronger, use a plumbing snake to clear the obstruction and then run the water again.

Step 4: Rinsing the Gutters and Downspouts

After the gutters and downspouts have been cleaned out, do a final rinse to flush out and remove any remaining debris. Let the water run for several minutes until the water flowing out of the downspout is clear and clean.

Why Do You Need to Clean Your Gutters?

Gutters are designed to collect rainwater from the roof and carry it away from the foundation of the home through the downspouts, so having clogged gutters can cause water to overflow onto the foundation of your home. This water will pool into its cracks and during the winter it will expand and freeze, cracking your foundation. Foundation repair can cost tens of thousands of dollars. If you have a basement, you are at risk of developing mold if your gutters are not cleaned. Also, clogged gutters can become makeshift nests for unwanted rodents and insects.

Some Problems Blocked Gutters And Downspouts Can Cause: Mold

  • Leaks
  • Ice dams
  • Nests for pests
  • Basement flooding
  • Rotting fascia boards
  • Water damage to your home and foundation

When Should I Clean My Gutters?

By cleaning your gutters, you’re essentially preparing them rainfalls. It's recommended that you clean your gutters at least twice a year: once in the spring and once in the fall. But you may have to clean more frequently, depending on the number of trees on your property and how often it rains.

Look for a Better Home Insurance Policy

How Does Your Home Insurance Protect You?

It is important to clean your gutters regularly. Damage to your home caused by blocked gutters may not be covered by home insurance. Home insurance covers you for damage that results from unexpected incidents that are not in your control, not for damage that could have been easily avoided through regular maintenance.

When it comes to gutter-related damage, there are a few exclusions


Negligence: If your gutters are clogged due to a lack of cleaning and it causes damages to your home, it will not be covered.

Wear and tear: If your gutters are failing due to age, your claim most likely won’t be covered. It’s important to know your installation date before submitting a claim.

Signs Your Gutters Needs to Be Repaired

Rust: The paint on your gutters is weather resistant. Peeling paint or rust indicates that water is present on the surface on a continuous basis. Your gutter may need to be repaired.

Sagging gutters: Gutter sag or gutters that pull away from the house need to be replaced.

Cracks and splits: Small cracks allow water to seep into the fascia boards behind the gutters, the shingles above the gutter and the foundation below.

Pooling water and mold: If you see standing water or mildew, it can indicate that the gutters are clogged and not working the way they’re supposed to.

Get a Free Home Insurance Quote Online Now.

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